Bring us your World War One memorabilia | University of Oxford
Tony Godfrey
After Tony Godfrey contributed this photograph of his father with his neighbour and sisters to the archive, some members of his family who had no idea he existed got in touch

Tony Godfrey

Bring us your World War One memorabilia

Matt Pickles

Do you have a box hidden deep in the attic or under the bed that holds your great-grandfather’s First World War medals? Or your grandma’s diaries from 1914-1918?

If so, a team at Oxford University wants you to bring them to a 'roadshow' in Oxford this Saturday (12 November). An Oxford podcast explains what happens at a roadshow.

At the Oxford at War 1914-1918 Roadshow, this kind of material will be scanned and made part of an online memorial which is shared worldwide to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

Historians and digitisers from the University of Oxford and the International Society for First World War Studies will be on hand to talk to you about your material.

You don't need to have material to share to attend - there will be films, exhibitions, and talks throughout the day.

Digitisation saves precious memorabilia from being lost. Putting stories and images on the Internet makes them available to people world-wide; researchers, schools, family historians, cultural organisations, and others can explore them now and in the future.

Alun Edwards of Oxford University's IT Services, who runs the project, said: 'You've seen Antiques Roadshow - well, this is the same without the valuation. Our experts will talk to you about your stories and what you have brought in. They'll record the details, and then our digitisers will photograph your items so we can upload them to the website.

'Please just turn up on the day, there will be queues but also exhibitions and films to divert you. And if you would like to make an appointment please ring 01865 283686 or email ww1collections@it.ox.ac.uk.'

Dr Stuart D Lee of IT Services and the English Faculty at Oxford University said: 'The Oxford at War project has successfully unearthed hidden treasures held by members of the public that add further to our knowledge of the war, demonstrating how the new technologies can release such resources and engage the public in University research.

'We hope that the city will allow us to explore in depth the effect on one area of the country.'

Submissions to the archive so far have led to some interesting new discoveries. They have even brought families together! Tony Godfrey submitted the photograph above to the archive a few years ago. He said: 'The sergeant in the middle is my father, Dan Godfrey. In the front row, far right, is his next door neighbour Son Ryman, and the two nurses are probably his two sisters Win and Maggie. Dad told me that if anyone misbehaved he would put them in prison!'

When the Oxford team published this photograph on the internet, they were contacted by some family members of Tony's - who he had no idea existed. They were put in contact with each other. This is something that has happened quite a few times for the project team, showing the power of sharing family history online.

Oxford University IT Services began this First World War family history initiative when it asked people across Britain to bring letters, photographs, and keepsakes from the war to be digitised for The Great War Archive in 2006. This pilot project was funded by Jisc, the UK educational technology innovator. Its success encouraged Europeana to form a partnership with the University of Oxford to roll out the initiative across the whole of Europe.

The Oxford at War 1914-1918 Roadshow is a free event, open to all on 12 November 2016 11am-4pm at IT Services, 13 Banbury Road, Oxford.